Andrew Jagim, Ph.D.
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Movement. It seems like the simplest thing in the world. Our bodies are designed to run, jump and manipulate objects, among other miracles of locomotion. But how often do we use our bodies at their full potential?
Sit. Stay. Repeat.
We've made sitting into an art form. However, excess sitting now is linked with many diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Excessive sitting is a fairly new problem in human history. Two hundred years ago, 90% of the world lived in agricultural communities. People sat for three to five hours per day but only to take breaks from working. Modern Americans sit for 13 to 15 hours per day.
Whether our ancestors were fieldworkers, community dance leaders or hairdressers, they still walked several miles a day and only sat for brief periods. Compare that to today's average office worker who takes a few steps to the car and drives to work to sit in a sea of cubicles for most of the day. It may not be surprising that there are consequences for sitting all day long. We're not designed to do it.
Defeating the sedentary life isn't as simple as a few tips and tricks, but there are a few things anyone can do to move in the right direction.
Here are a few ways to incorporate movement into your day:
- Use a standing desk when possible.
- Set a reminder to stand and move at least once per hour.
- Take a walk over lunch.
- Walk during phone or conference calls.
- Park far from store entrances, and enjoy your walk to and from.
- Skip the elevator and use the stairs.
- Walk around your house when doing routine tasks like brushing your teeth.
- Take your dog for a long walk once daily.
- Walk on a treadmill while watching TV.
- Do yardwork, such as mowing your lawn, raking leaves or planting flowers.
I have found that once people are up and moving, they don't go back. This is a fundamental shift in how people function. Health gets better with movement, productivity gets better, and people enjoy their jobs — and lives — more.